Massachusetts became the first state to commend ISRI and its members in a resolution the state passed on Jan. 5. Passed by the House of Representatives, the resolution commends ISRI and its members for “maintaining the economic viability of the supply chain for Massachusetts manufacturers and their employees.” The resolution was the first that Speaker Ronald Mariano signed in his new role.

The idea to request that representatives pass a resolution of commendation came from a virtual lobbyist training event ISRI hosted in December, according to Colin Kelly, director of public affairs at Schnitzer Steel Industries. “Our industry has never gotten the credit it deserves,” Kelly says. “This gave us an opportunity to discuss what we do every day and the important role that we play in the manufacturing process.”

Massachusetts members approached Rep. James O’Day, who represents the district that includes Worcester, where Schnitzer has a facility. They provided an overview of the industry and explained its role in supplying feedstock to manufacture a wide range of vital products, from toilet paper to respirators. “I think he appreciated what the industry does,” Kelly says. Rep. O’Day agreed to sponsor the resolution.

Urged by the ISRI’s Southeast Chapter and and Scrap Recyclers Association of Alabama, Alabama’s Senate followed suit on Feb. 2.

Alabama’s resolution commends ISRI, the Scrap Recyclers Association of Alabama, and the organizations’ members for their roles in maintaining the economic viability of Alabama’s supply chain for manufacturers and for manufacturing employees. The resolution acknowledges the recycling industry’s function in recovering and processing raw materials used in needed products like toilet paper, respirators, new automobiles, packaging for food and beverages, infrastructure projects, and more.

The resolution specifically mentions the role of scrap metal, electronics, paper, glass, plastics, rubber, and textiles. It also calls attention to reuse and refurbishment, noting the role of automobile recyclers in providing used car parts for reuse, “allowing the state’s citizens to repair their automobiles and maintain reliable transportation throughout the pandemic,” and of electronics repairers, who have helped facilitate remote learning and working for both young people and adults.

“Legislators and the public recognize that a ventilator is essential,” says Steve Levetan, executive vice president of Pull-A-Part and an ISRI member who was part of the Southeast Chapter’s efforts. “What they don’t understand is the supply chain or materials to make that ventilator. If you don’t have scrap being recycled … you’re not going to have the raw materials that you need to ultimately manufacture that critical piece of equipment.” He notes the movement to pass the resolutions is an important “educational effort” for the industry.

The resolutions are nonbinding, but they demonstrate states are recognizing the essential nature of recycling and what recycling workers do on an everyday basis, Danielle Waterfield, ISRI’s chief policy officer and assistant general counsel, says.

Matthew Applebaum, vice president of Framingham Salvage Co. and president of ISRI’s Northeast Chapter, helped urge the resolution’s passage in the state. “With everything going on right now with closures and things of that nature, this was going to be a huge part of making sure that recyclers are going to be able to stay open [throughout the pandemic],” he says. “It also helps promote One ISRI, our effort to include all commodities as part of the recycling industry. I hope this can be a tool for other states to try to adopt.”

ISRI members in at least eight other states are working with their representatives to get similar resolutions passed, Waterfield says.